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Studying Literature at IB offers students the opportunity to widen their horizons, engage in lively debate and explore alternative ideas about the world, elements which fit perfectly with the IB Learner Profile.

Every IB student takes Literature at Higher or Standard Level (or Literature and Performance at Standard Level). The IB course consists of oral and written assessment, improving your skills in presentations, discussions, commentaries and written work.

At Higher level, over the two years, 13 texts are studied across 4 genres, 3 time periods and 3 different places. These can be studied in various depth according to your chosen interests. The focus is on breadth, giving the student an overview of literature they may enjoy and engage with and offering an opportunity to study a wide variety of texts, including:  playwrights from Shakespeare to Miller to Ibsen; texts from other cultures, which could be a selection of African, Russian, Japanese, Irish, German or French texts in translation; a wide variety of poetry and literary non-fiction. Students are then assessed on these texts in an assortment of ways varying from conventional exams and coursework to oral commentaries. 

This approach is brilliant for University, preparing students for the range of texts and the choice of study. Recently, at Southampton University an English Literature professor took an ex-BGS student aside to ask what her route to University was as she was so widely read, had brilliant speaking and listening skills and was able to articulate her opinion in tutorials – her answer: ‘The IB Literature Course’.  She felt fully prepared and confident in her first year as a result of Sixth Form lessons that were very similar to University learning.

The Standard Level course is similar, offering the same exciting breadth and variety of assessment just with slightly fewer texts to study across the two years (9 in total). Many students who are not confident in English at GCSE are often amazed how much they enjoy a course that offers them flexibility and a wide range of texts, and how proficient they become in the subject.


In Year 12 you have one assessment

  1. Individual recorded commentary on short extracts from two texts (from a choice of five). These are 10 minutes long plus 5 minutes Q&A with your teacher (they are not presented to the class). You may bring in prepared notes. 

In Year 13 you are assessed by two exams (plus a piece of course work at Higher Level) 

  1. Exam 1 - An essay on an 'unseen' poem or prose (SL), or both (HL).
  2. Exam 2 - A comparison essay on two texts you have studied.  
  3. (HL only) A 1500 word essay on one text you have studied, with your choice of question.

Our extracurricular activities are varied: there are Book Clubs and Film Clubs, we enter competitions - such as Debating and Poetry Writing - and host guest lecturers. There is also the opportunity to run lower school clubs as CAS Projects, as well as take part in a range of 'booster' sessions to help younger years improve their reading and writing skills. Finally, we have a strong, dedicated English Prefect team that everyone is welcome to apply to join.